Thomas W. Hodgkinson

Richard III

By William Shakespeare
Bristol Old Vic

This punkish production of Shakespeare’s history play, soon to transfer to London, postpones the opening with a terrific scene from Henry VI Part 3. Controversial, but it helps to clarify the civil strife, as well as providing a fine introduction to our hair-raising antihero, as he’s harangued by his victim, Henry VI (“Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born / To signify thou camest to bite the world”). Which brings us to Tom Mothersdale’s jagged take on the role: lank-haired, one leg clamped in a brace, one shoulder jutting to a point. His swaying physicality is perhaps overdone, but he grows in confidence as his character loses it, and nails his final agonised soliloquy (“There is no creature loves me”). Stefan Adegbola makes an imposing Buckingham, his confidence counting for nothing after the slaughterous Richard seizes the crown. And Heledd Gwynn impresses in some gender-blind casting, playing the hapless Hastings and the heartless Ratcliffe. With a hall-of-mirrors staging and well-choreographed violence, this energetic revival builds to a compelling rock-opera climax.